Friday, June 21, 2024

MrHonda’s revolving door…

Well, the first few months of the year featured a CL77 that stayed too long for cosmetic reasons, followed by the owner’s CL160 which only had a short stay. After that, there was a C105T which needed a kickstarter shaft replacement and top end rebuild. Then the SL90 hybrid from Hell that taxed my brain and resources in order to get it up and running and out the door. In the meantime, a CL175 engine came in for reassembly, but only after the kickstarter shaft was replaced on that one, too. It’s waiting for the chassis to be completed so it can be installed here and made to run. Then a CL77 snuck back in, belonging to the CB77 owner who just “needed some tires and cables” but that, of course, wasn’t the whole picture. It needed a centerstand, new tires, a chain guard, swing arm bushing bolt, carb overhaul and electrical work.

Recently the Pink Panther CB77 came through the rehab process. It is now running and ready for a new home. Then, my old black 1963 CB77 came back for a look, after going through two more owners and some neglect. The owner had problems right from the start when the speedometer cable snapped on Day 3. There were running problems that were not resolved after paying a lot of labor time for no good results. Then, the clutch cable broke while riding. The bike was towed to a local Biker shop in N. County where it stayed until I dropped off a replacement cable. The shop proceeded to remove the kickstarter cover, installed the new cable and then installed the cable joint backwards, cracking the cover in two places. Lesson: Don’t take your vintage Honda to a Harley shop!

The running complaint had continued, also
with the loss of the electric starter function and when it was running, the lights were all pulsing to the tune of the AC generator. Two different shops looked at the bike, charged him for shop time and pronounced the battery to be okay. Well, it was a 4-year old Motobatt battery, which I have been using successfully for the last few years. These sealed AGM batteries have universal electrical mounts, so they can be fitted to different types of bikes.


                                                    When it was fresh back in 2016... 

Like any battery, they have an active life of just a few years. The bike had been sitting for about six months after the guy I sold it to decided that he was too tall for it (6’2”) I think. It floated around on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for quite awhile, then finally disappeared. When the new owner posted a comment about needing help for his CB77, I recognized the bike and got in touch with him.

I scooped up the bike when I was up in N. County for my chiropractor’s appointment and brought it back to its former abode with me. The bike would kickstart, but the lights were pulsing and the voltage on the battery was in the 11v range when first checked. I put it on the charger overnight and it jumped up to 13.25v off the charger. In the meantime I had to dissect the starter button/throttle cable unit and repair the sheared off starter button wire. This is a tricky repair job and it took me two times to get it right adding some shrink tubing over the end of the wire where it attaches to the starter button board.

Once that was accomplished, I hit the starter button while monitoring the battery voltage and it went from 13.25v to 5v for a moment, then bounced back to 13v+ and then ran up to 16v at medium revs! Okay, too much of a good thing is not a good thing. When batteries are failing, the AC charging system will go to max output. The battery can no longer store the power as designed, so the system voltage just skyrockets. The bike has a Pro-Trigger ignition and LED headlight bulbs, which mercifully didn’t blow out. The bike was equipped with the last generation solid-state rectifier from Honda and has worked well until now.

I swapped out the nearly-new Motobatt battery from the Pink Panther bike and everything settled right down into the 12v range, with no wild run up to the 14-15+v readings. I think that the old battery was getting overheated at the 16v range (with the lights ON) and shutting down until it cooled off. This is in line with the reported troubles of running for a half hour then stalling and not restarting until it cooled off. Despite being a 1963 bike, it has a later (L) low output rotor, but was still cranking out volts like crazy.

While I removed the kickstarter cover to reverse the clutch cable joint installation, I had to go back into the crankshaft seal for replacement. This had been a problem previously and I changed the seal a couple of years ago. Everything looks fine, but it was leaking around the starter clutch hub face on the crankshaft side.

The cylinder head skull leaks a bit on the left side and I found a tapered washer from the kickstarter spring retainer that helps to hold the skull up in place and lessens the tendency to leak oil around the spark plug threads. Sadly, the last mechanic who changed the plugs, failed to reinstall the washer.

The new owner was thrilled that I was able to get my hands back on the bike and solve all the outstanding issues in just a couple of hours. It’s a 61-year-old bike and it has had an interesting history and string of owners, who have now twice brought it back to me for needed attention. With continued maintenance care, it should be good for another few more years by this caring owner.

Next up:

A red 1966 Dream has arrived. Another one of Don’s little beauties which belies the demons within. Looking pretty good externally with a fresh set of BW tires, the battery cover was missing, the ignition switch was missing and the headlight shell was torn and twisted. An aftermarket wiring harness was installed along with a bunch of LED lights and a lot of black electrical tape over everything. Plus, the added bonus of some kind of Mikuni copy Chinese carburetor with an enrichener lever that is covered up by the carb covers, when installed. Waiting for parts on this one… in the meantime:

Saturday morning will see the arrival of a CL72 which the owner requests that the engine be completely overhauled. The Summer Solstice has just occurred, so the summertime looks like it will be a busy time for the weeks to come and beyond. There are more customers in the queue.... I need an apprentice! 

Bill Silver aka MrHonda


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